This issue of whether or not the Drug Enforcement Agency acted inappropriately when it denied a petition to move marijuana from schedule I will go before the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit. The court has agreed to hear the case brought by Americans for Safe Access against the Drug Enforcement Agency. From ASA:
Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am.
“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” continued Elford. “What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.”
ASA filed its lawsuit in January, challenging the July 2011 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denial of the CRC petition, which was filed in 2002. The DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances, but other agencies are also involved in the review process. Patient advocates claim that marijuana is treated unlike any other controlled substance in that rescheduling petitions are encumbered by politics and therapeutic research is subjected to a unique and overly rigorous approval process.
Cannabis is currently a schedule I drug under the Controlled Schedule Act. That schedule applies to substances that have “a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Since it has no currently accepted medical value at DEA, medical marijuana is illegal under federal law even though several states have approved of it.
Drugs can be rescheduled by Congress or by the executive branch without legislative involvement based on new research. The overwhelming recent scientific research would indicate cannabis is effective as a medical treatment, which would require that it be moved to a lower schedule. For example, moving marijuana to schedule III, the same as Ketamine, would make medical marijuana legal while still keeping recreational use illegal.
Modern federal administrations have traditionally stonewalled all attempts to reschedule marijuana, and disappointingly President Obama has continued the pattern. Despite being vested with the legal power to legalize medical marijuana without Congress, the Obama administration has decided to ignore the science and fight against rescheduling.